Featuring a sculptured and eye-catching design, the Toyota C-HR is an instant attention-grabber on the compact SUV scene. It has a gemstone theme running throughout and is packed with technology. It is available in hybrid or purely petrol format with richly-equipped trim grades to choose from.
The goodLooks, style, quality and running costs
The badCVT transmission can be noisy at times
Toyota C-HR Dynamic Hybrid 1.8 CVT
Few cars these days are genuine attention-grabbing head-turners. Admittedly if a supercar such as a Ferrari or McLaren passes by, it will be met with a few jealous gasps of admiration, but a Toyota? Really?
Yes, it’s a fact that the model in question was a Toyota and it gained heaps of interest during my week-long test drive. It’s the C-HR (it stands for Coupe High-Rider) which boasts sharp, angled styling that makes it unique in the ever-growing crossover segment. It actually looks like a concept car that has just driven away from one of the prestigious motor shows around the world.
And when you take into account the Japanese company’s unrivalled expertise in hybrid technology, it’s little wonder the C-HR is so engaging. The test model was powered by the hybrid powertrain fitted to the most recent Prius – a 1.8-litre 97bhp petrol engine combined with an electric motor to deliver an output of 121bhp/90kW.
Costing £28,085 (£30,475 with options fitted), the C-HR can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.0 seconds, tops out at 105mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 72.4mpg with carbon emissions of just 87g/km.
First impressions are imperative when attracting new customers and the C-HR certainly looks the business with its futuristic and somewhat quirky body styling. Features include 18-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, follow-me-home headlights, a rear spoiler and a gritty, athletic stance that looks like it’s been carved out by the blade of Zorro! The test car was supplied in a bright pearlescent white colour with contrasting black roof, side pillars, door mirrors and body mouldings which completed the ultra-modern look.
Coupe-like styling is accomplished thanks to the swooping roofline, rising waistline and hidden rear door handles. There is also a strong emphasis on the gem that’s supposed to be a girl’s best friend with diamond-shaped grooves in the lower grille.
Step inside and once again the C-HR resembles something from the distant future with chic neon blue trim running the length of the dashboard and into the doors. There is full leather upholstery and, of course, bundles of on-board technology to be explored, including a JBL premium sound system, front and rear parking sensors with park assist, automatic wipers and lights, dual-zone air conditioning, plus Toyota’s Touch 2 with Go set-up that introduces the likes of sat nav, on-line connectivity and Bluetooth via an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
And once again, that diamond theme is evident within the cabin too with gem-like shapes on the steering wheel, instrument clusters, air vents, speaker grille, door panels and the roof headlining.
Comfort levels within the C-HR are first-rate and there is ample room for a couple of passengers to travel in the back without being too cramped, although the small rear windows may be a tad claustrophobic. Storage options are also comprehensive with a boot capacity of 377 litres which can be increased to 1,160 litres when the 60:40 split-folding rear seats are dropped flat. Elsewhere there are a number of convenient compartments scattered throughout the car to store away any knick-knacks.
The C-HR starts up in complete silence and pulls away smoothly as it accelerates through the CVT automatic gearbox. Thanks to its low centre of gravity – the lowest in the segment – the C-HR can be driven enthusiastically into bends without any fear of body roll or loss of grip.
There is a noticeable increase in engine noise when pushed particularly hard and the CVT box will whine until you get used to driving it with a gentle right boot. But generally, the car performed well on any steep inclines and can easily keep pace with fast-moving motorway traffic.
All C-HR models are kitted out with Toyota’s impressive Safety Sense package as standard which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, lane departure alert and road sign assist. And this package is complemented by a range of other safety systems such as hill-start assist, traction control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
All in all, the C-HR is quite a gem in a fiercely competitive sector and one that sparkles and stands out from the crowd.
Toyota C-HR – first drive (2016)
If Dame Shirley Bassey is to be believed and her prediction that Diamonds are Forever is accurate then Toyota’s latest crossover model to hit the showrooms will have exceptional longevity.
That’s because the all-new C-HR has a design which is very much based on gemstone architecture and it is guaranteed to stand out in an ever-increasing crowd of models vying for position in the rapidly-growing compact SUV segment.
Customers simply can’t get enough of these types of vehicles and it’s now the fastest-growing segment which, in turn, makes it fiercely competitive.
But the C-HR is a little bit special. That’s because very few cars that are initially shown as concepts at motor shows go into full production bearing any resemblance to the original design. The C-HR does just that with its striking, angular and somewhat quirky appearance similar to when it was initially unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2014.
The lower grille has diamond-shaped grooves and the slim upper grille stretches neatly into the sculpted headlight clusters. Coupe-like styling is achieved thanks to disguised rear door handles integrated into the rear pillars, a rising door line and sweeping roofline. A rear spoiler is added to give the car a true sporty appearance.
The diamond theme is just as apparent inside the upmarket, elegant and spacious cabin with clear gem-like shapes on the instrument clusters, steering wheel, door panels, air vents, speaker grille and even the roof headlining. The C-HR has a truly premium feel to it with quality materials incorporated throughout.
There are two powertrains to select from but no diesel option. The 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid engine is available with front-wheel drive and with a CVT automatic transmission. The 1.2-litre version can be selected with either a manual or CVT gearbox and with the option of all-wheel drive.
And the choices keep on coming as there are three richly-equipped trims to select from. Icon models which Toyota believes will account for 30 per cent of sales start from £20,995 (£23,595 in hybrid); the Excel, which is expected to claim 35 per cent of the sales starts from £23,995 (£26,495 as a hybrid) and the range-topping Dynamic which is also likely to account for 35 per cent of sales is priced at £24,495 (£27,995 hybrid).
Even customers opting for the entry level model will be pleasantly surprised at how much kit is included such as an easy-to-operate 8-inch touchscreen and all the connectivity set-ups you could possibly wish for. And as you move up through the range plenty more techno treats are introduced along the way.
Another plus factor is that all models feature Toyota’s acclaimed Safety Sense package which adds features such as a pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian recognition, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and automatic high beam assist.
Toyota is predicting that about 70 to 75 per cent of customers will choose hybrid versions of the car and that the range-topping Dynamic trim will be the joint most popular grade. So it was that car that we tested out on the winding country roads and fast-paced motorways surrounding bustling Madrid.
The car was priced at £27,995 and can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.0 seconds with a maximum speed of 105mph. According to official figures it can deliver combined fuel economy of 72.4mpg (on 18-inch wheels) with carbon emissions of 87g/km.
First impressions count and the C-HR is almost impossible to ignore because it looks quite angular in a day and age where smooth, rounded curves are all the rage. The interior is incredibly comfortable with striking neon blue trim including a smart band running the length of the dashboard. The instrumentation is very driver-focused and delivers all sorts of hybrid data about power usage etc. In addition, the elevated driving position results in great all-round visibility. That said; the rear window is quite narrow so the field of vision is a tad limited.
The hybrid model starts up in complete silence and pulls away smoothly and efficiently as the car works its way through the gears. The C-HR boasts the lowest centre of gravity in the segment and that means there is minimal body roll. This is good news when attacking long, sweeping bends at pace.
The road-holding is beautifully assured and the steering nicely precise. There is a fair amount of engine noise and the CVT gearbox tends to scream when the car is pushed really hard, but the vehicle coped admirably with steep inclines, twisting mountain roads and fast motorways.
Back seat passengers are treated to ample leg and head room, but the ultra-narrow windows do make it a little claustrophobic. Elsewhere storage options are excellent with a boot capacity of 377 litres, which can be increased to 1,160 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. It’s also worth remembering that the car comes with Toyota’s extensive five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
And if you’re wondering what on earth C-HR stands for, it’s Coupe High-Rider which may sound like the title of a gun-toting Clint Eastwood western, but in fairness to Toyota this fabulous all-rounder with its ground-breaking design is a real headline act in its own rights and guaranteed to scoop plenty of awards. In fact, it would be fair to say it’s a real gem of a car.